Specialising in the human experience of Living with prostate cancer – warts and all

You can’t keep a good councillor down

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The significance of the mayor’s ban on councillors speaking out is found in our immediate past.

Our previous council had two factions.

On the one hand, there was the mayor, Cr Roberto Paino, ex mayor Cr Irene Grant and Cr Keiren Klemm generally supported by Cr Neville Wright and Cr Tanya Tatulaschilli. This group brought about the Faithful Street project, the Joined-up Government Centre, the joint TAFE/RCoW library project, and the disused Apex park pavillion. They were seen as a rubber stamp for the beauracracy’s city centric big dreams for the Rural City of Wangaratta.

On the other, there was Cr Kerrin Chambers and Cr Rozi Parisotto sometimes supported by Cr Rob Chuck. This group were prepared to challenge the beauracracy ‘s recommendations in the interests of the electorate with little success. The usual outcome of council votes was 6:2 and occasionally 5:3 in favor of the larger grouping. This is easily verified as Cr Chambers was renowned for calling for a division where the individual votes were recorded.

In March 2005, the major group abolished portfolios in an attempt to bring the lesser group to heel. All they really achieved was driving a wedge between the council and the community.

Eight months into the life of our new council and we see the new Mayor Cr Don Joyce – who had previously worked alongside Cr Grant – and Cr Paino still supported by Cr Wright and Cr Tatulaschilli supporting the beauracracy whilst Cr Justin Scholz, occasionally supported by Cr Parisotto, is prepared to challenge the beauracracy ‘s recommendations in the interests of the ratepayers. We generally do not hear of Cr Bernard Young and his allegiances.

The new mayor has already stamped his authority by placing a gag on the other elected representatives speaking out on council matters. In doing so, the mayor may have shot himself in the foot.

The ‘gag’, now being debated by the community, came about when Cr Sholz spoke out on the fluoride issue. He objected to the mayor stating that the council supported the government on fluoridation before the matter had been discussed in council or in the community.

The people now see the RCoW machine, denying freedom of speech and community consultation, rolling on relentlessly installing the grandiose dreams of the state government beauracracy.

But then, there is still Cr Justin Scholz. Due to the controversy over the demolition of the town hall and the gagging of councillors, this fiercely independent, young man has become the crowd favorite.

He will now be expected to keep speaking up in the community interest under the siege of his fellow councillors. Not an enviable position to be sure. But one that will stand him in good stead into the future.

Whilst there is a state government regulation demanding that anything discussed outside of public forums is deemed to be confidential, a further ‘gag’ by the council itself would seem to be over the top and must be removed.

The public support for Cr Scholz must be a worry to most of the councillors. If he is penalised or dismissed for breaching the council gag, the whole community may turn on the mayor and his group of councillors.


Written by Greg Naylor

1 August 2006 at 7:15 pm

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